Williamsburg man says coronavirus took his wife’s life


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – A Williamsburg widower is opening up about the loss of his wife. 

82-year-old Mary Jane Gantzler died March 21 from coronavirus.

“She would be amazed to know how fast the word of her passing moved through her community,” said her husband, Dick Gantzler.

Gantzler always thought his wife Mary Jane would outlive him.

“Even though she was older than me, I was the one who had heart disease,” Gantzler added.

But after 40 years of marriage, it was Mary Jane who suddenly lost her life.

“I always thought circumstances would catch up to me first, but we didn’t count on this coronavirus,” Gantzler said. 

“One day they were sick, the next day she was in the hospital and the next day she was gone,” stepdaughter Valerie Gantzler said. “It was very quick.”

Mary Jane and her husband both started feeling sick at the same time. The last time Dick saw his wife was when rescue crews rushed her to the hospital. Because of restrictions, he wasn’t able to be by her bedside.

“Yeah it was heartbreaking, because there was nothing I can do,” Gantzler said.  “I couldn’t be with her.”

When Mary Jane’s condition worsened, Dick had to make the decision by phone to have doctors pull back on her care.

“She wasn’t getting any better and all of her indicators were starting to go south,” Gantzler said.

The coronavirus stole Mary Jane’s life, a chance to have a memorial service and the opportunity for a family to grieve together.

“It’s surreal,” Valerie said. “That’s the only way I can describe explain it.  I know of course logically that she is gone, as my father does. I especially worry about my dad not being able to see her or not say goodbye when they took her off life support. It must have been horrible.”

The family looks forward to a time when they are able to get together.  At that point, they’ll be able to properly say goodbye to Mary Jane. They just don’t know when that will be.

“I’m making it,” Gantzler said. “I’m surviving. I’m good at surviving. I haven’t come to grips with everything yet.”

Dick Gantzler believes he also had coronavirus, but his case not nearly as severe as his wife’s. He is waiting for his test results to come back.

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